Reanimation package of reforms > News > Statements > RPR Urges the President to Stop the Attack on the Rights and Freedoms of Civil Society Activists

RPR Urges the President to Stop the Attack on the Rights and Freedoms of Civil Society Activists

Representatives of Ukrainian civil society and the international community are outraged by the recent events taking place around the leading civil organizations involved in fight against corruption.

The first step was the adoption of the discriminatory amendments to the draft law No. 6172 “On Amendments to Article 3 of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Prevention of Corruption’” by the Parliament. The new Law extended the obligation to file the declarations mandatory for those authorized to perform the functions of state or local self-government to civil society representatives, namely, the heads and all members of anti-corruption NGOs, all contractors of these organizations and even participants of events related to combatting corruption that were initiated by NGOs.

There is no other country where representatives of NGOs in general or their particular category (anti-corruption, human rights, etc.) in particular are required to submit property declarations of public servants. The controversial provisions of the law do not meet the standards of the UN Convention against Corruption and contradict Ukraine’s commitments to Western partners.

Therefore, the adoption of the amendments was criticized by representatives of Western political circles – the G7 Ambassadors, Members of the European Parliament, heads of prominent international non-governmental organizations.

However, representatives of pro-government circles wouldn’t stop at the adoption of the anti-democratic law and went on to apply personal defamatory methods of pressure on the civil society and expert community.

Their first object was Vitaliy Shabunin, head of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. Vsevolod Filimonenko, a pseudo-journalist and assistant of MP Serhiy Melnychuk, made a manipulative pseudo-investigation about Shabunin’s “estate”. After this, there was a pseudo-rally held near Shabunin’s “estate”, which according to the investigative program “Skhemy” was probably organized by the Security Service of Ukraine.

Later, pressure was exerted on Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Anticorruption Action Center. In early May, unidentified people met her at the airport, where she arrived after her holidays, and began to question her about details of the trip.

On May 23, MPs joined in to apply pressure against anti-corruption activists. At the press-point of the Verkhovna Rada, the representative of the ruling coalition and the “right hand” of Mykola Martynenko Pavlo Pynzenyk presented to journalists a “film” about the Anticorruption Action Centre. The MP said that the NGO violated the law and as a consequence he will insist on depriving this organization of the non-profit status.

All these facts indicate an open attack of pro-government circles against the representatives of anticorruption NGOs and signify a revival of control and pressure on activists that took place during the rule of Yanukovych.

This discredits the politicians who came to power after the Revolution of Dignity and undermines Ukraine’s credibility in the eyes of our international partners. In addition, there is enough evidence to view these events as an attempt of Ukrainian authorities to change the vector of country’s development from a democratic and pro-European into an authoritarian one.

That is why the Reanimation Package of Reforms, which unites 80 leading Ukrainian NGOs, urges the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to offer an assessment of the unprecedented defamatory campaign against civil society representatives, and as the guarantor of the Constitution to stop this attack, ensuring respect for the rights and freedoms of activists.